Dan Abnett (W), Emilio Laiso (A), Guru-EFX (C)
Cover by: Jay Anacleto and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Speaking of the B-List, I love Marvel’s version of Hercules. He’s charming, well-meaning, determined, and just a fun character to read about. He’s a hero from a different age, and he resembles a more old-fashioned comic book hero as a result. He has been off the grid for a bit ever since Greg Pak’s Herc, which ended a few years back.
Dan Abnett has been killing it with his new Hercules series, which has been all about the big guy trying to change his image from drunken fool to true hero. He has the Prince of Power embracing the modern world, and I have loved every panel of it. Not only has it been action-packed and a fun read, it also has a lot heart and emotion. You really feel for Hercules trying to prove and improve himself.
Unfortunately, not everyone seems to share this sentiment, as Hercules’ Civil War II: Gods of War tie-in will conclude his series.
Not everyone seems to be very interested in reading about Hercules. Thankfully for him, he has the one-and-only B-List Defender here to champion his book for the puny mortals.
This book continues his conflict with the new gods of the Uprising Storm. Hercules is lamenting his recent dressing down by Tony Stark (who in reality was the Uprising Storm’s Cryptomnesia in disguise) He is sitting in a bar over a glass of whiskey, and his old friend and comrade Amadeus Cho approaches him. He tries to convince the demigod not to drink. Hercules tells Cho that he does this as a test of his sobriety, and he talks about his attempts to make amends and about the Uprising Storm. The two leave the bar to find the battle with the celestial shown in Civil War II #1. Hercules is informed by She-Hulk that Iron Man and Captain Marvel called everyone in to battle this being, and he realizes that it didn’t include him. He is then approached and taunted by the gods of the Uprising Storm. They tell him that they have chosen him to become their God of Chaos, and Hercules tries to fight them. Cho and She-Hulk cannot see the other gods and just assume that Hercules is on another drunken tear. They tell him to go home, and this breaks his spirit even further. He returns to his apartment with Gilgamesh, Ire, and Teresias waiting for him. He is rallied by his landlady, Sophia, and he decide to unite what heroes he can for a team called the Gods of War.
I was willing to give away pretty much the entire plot of this because it was very much a setup issue. The connection to Civil War II is very brief and tangential. Its status as a “tie-in” is definitely for advertising purposes.
That being said, this is a very good setup for the miniseries. It picks up immediately where the last issue of Hercules left off, and it spends its time building tension. As I’ve said before, I like “breather” issues that show where the hero’s headspace is at in the moment, and this book is a very good example of that. You feel for Hercules. Who hasn’t had their low moments in life where they feel completely alone? You want to see him rally and win the day. You want him to pick himself up and fight the Uprising Storm. He may be a demigod, but this book makes him seem very human.
I will say, it’s not very action-packed. There is a brief moment where Hercules takes some swings at the Uprising Storm, but it is very brief. This didn’t bother me very much because I enjoyed the character development of the book, but I can see why it might bore some, especially those who haven’t been following the Hercules series.
The villains of the Uprising Storm aren’t particularly interesting. They just kind of serve as millennials for Hercules to pound on. Cryptomnesia is pretty insufferable and only speaks is text-talk and colloquialisms. That being said, their visual design is good. The look like modern gods. Catastrophobia has a pretty creepy design, especially since he never talks. Horrorscope (their names are kind of cheesy too) has a very creative image that definitely reflects a modern image of vanity. Beyond that, they don’t really have much going on for them.
There has been an artist change since the last issue of Hercules as well. This art is a little more cartoony, and I didn’t enjoy it as much. It doesn’t fit the tone of the comic as well. It doesn’t look bad, but it doesn’t match either.
I really enjoyed this book. It may not live up to its claims as a Civil War II tie-in, but that’s not really the books fault so much as Marvel’s marketing. Beyond that, it does a fine job of continuing Hercules’ character arc and showing his mettle tested. Whether you’re a fan of Hercules or just well-characterized heroes, give it a read.
Final Score: 8/10